While Senate leaders are reportedly close to a deal to pass a long-term budget and raise the country’s borrowing limit, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has thrown a wrench in the works by demanding that Speaker Paul Ryan commit to bringing an immigration bill vote to the floor after the Feb. 8 deadline.
Pelosi said Democrats in the House would be “reluctant” to hand over their votes without a commitment from Ryan. During the brinksmanship to reopen the government after last month’s brief shutdown, McConnell promised to open a freewheeling immigration floor debate if no deal has been struck before then. But Ryan refused to make the same commitment, according to the Hill.
Still, Pelosi said the Senate agreement “includes many Democratic priorities,” including disaster aid, opioid funding and parity for defense and non-defense spending.
As part of the deal to end the three-day government shutdown last month, McConnell said that he would bring up immigration legislation after Feb. 8. But Ryan would not make any similar promise that whatever passed in the Senate would be considered by the House.
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Have we finally seen the last continuing resolution?
While nothing is finished until it’s finished, Axios reports that Senate leaders are nearing an agreement on a two-year budget deal – what would be the first full budget of the Trump era – that would also include a provision to raise the debt ceiling.
According to Axios, Senate Democrats and Republicans are increasingly likely that a debt-ceiling increase will be attached to a budget deal that Senate negotiators from both sides hope to announce as soon as today.
The upshot of this is that DACA will now likely be dealt with on its own terms – and won’t be used as a bargaining chip in a government shutdown showdown.
However, such a deal could infuriate President Donald Trump, who has demanded that any deal on DACA include changes to legal immigration laws to limit chain migration, as well as funding for border security and his signature policy, the southern border wall.
Yesterday, Trump threatened Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer by telling a group of reporters “I’d love to see a shutdown” if Congress doesn’t meet his administration’s demands for curbs on legal and illegal immigration.
The two-year deal I expect McConnell and Schumer to strike: busting the budget caps on defense and domestic spending, raising the debt limit, plus funding for disaster relief and funding for community health centers.
Why it matters: That would be a pretty good deal for President Trump. Sure, the fiscal conservatives will hate it, but Trump has never been one of them.
The deal would expose the gap between Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: She wanted to hitch the immigration deal to the spending fight, while Schumer appears OK with allowing it to be separate.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the agreement is expected to increase military spending by $80 billion a year and nondefense spending by $63 billion a year – though these numbers are subject to change.
“I’m optimistic that very soon we’ll be able to reach an agreement,” Mr. McConnell told WSJ.
And Schumer added that, while some issues were still being worked out, he and McConnell were “making real progress on a spending bill that would increase the caps for both the military and middle-class priorities on the domestic side.”
As WSJ explains, many Democrats have come around to the idea that they don’t have as much leverage as they once thought, and that holding federal spending hostage until their DACA demands are met simply isn’t practical. Many lawmakers said Tuesday that they were ready to advance a two-year budget deal that would allow lawmakers to write and pass a long-term spending bill, which they had initially hoped to pass in December. Instead, the interlocking fight over immigration tied up the negotiations, forcing lawmakers to pass a series of short-term spending measures.
The capitulation on immigration is particularly helpful for red-state Democrats who are seeking reelection later this year, who believe it will bolster their chances of victory in November. Though this has understandably angered immigration advocates.
Meanwhile in the House, lawmakers last night passed a short-term measure that would fund the government past a midnight Thursday deadline through March 23 – but that bill has little chance of passing the Senate because Democrats oppose it,as the Washington Post points out.
Per WaPo, $80 billion in disaster relief funding would also be included as part of the bill. That provision could help win support from lawmakers representing affected areas in California, Florida and Texas but further repel conservatives concerned about mounting federal spending.
Still, such a deal will likely face stiff opposition from conservatives.
“This is a bad, bad, bad, bad – you could say ‘bad’ a hundred times – deal,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus.
“When you put it all together, a quarter-of-a-trillion-dollar increase in discretionary spending – not what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Mark Meadows, the leader of the Freedom Caucus, said such a deal would get “zero support.”
But with two days until the Friday-morning deadline, there isn’t another deal in the works that has the level of bipartisan support that this deal has.
The question now is whether the president will back out his allies in the Freedom caucus and work to kill the bill.
Following the deal reports, the debt-ceiling spread has notably compressed – a sign that T-bill traders are taking the optimistic reports seriously.
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